Open Doors Youth Service Inc supports young LGBTIQAP+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy people aged 12 – 25 years in South-East Queensland. Established 20 years ago, the organisation currently faces a funding challenge to one of its most vital programs. Open Doors continues to lobby governments for funding for the Jellybeans program. In the meantime, community members raised funds to support the program at a Champagne High Tea held on Saturday night at the Brisbane Club.
Images: Tae Young – Mellumae Photography
CEO Chris Pickard said that over the years Open Doors witnessed many changes in the community. During recent years, noticeably more younger and/or gender diverse people accessed the service, mainly through the vital Jellybeans program.
Jellybeans began out of a need to provide young transgender and/or gender diverse people space to be their authentic selves in a safe, supportive and encouraging environment.
The program went from strength to strength, despite relying mainly on community fundraising and donations. At times, circumstances became so dire that the service seriously contemplated stopping the program. But, luckily, they always pulled through.
Two years ago, Member for Brisbane Trevor Evans connected ODYS with a Department of Social Services one-off, two-year funding opportunity. The first-ever substantial government funding the program ever received! This was an amazing opportunity and much needed. However, that funding expires on 30 June 2021. Chris Pickard since approached local, state and federal agencies in an attempt to obtain ongoing funding.
“Going back to a model that relies solely on donations and fundraising is unsustainable. The program supports our most at risk and vulnerable young people. Roughly 85% of young people who receive that support identify as transgender and/or gender diverse. A gap in service delivery would prove catastrophic.
“ODYS remain determined to do whatever it takes to keep the program going. We make the commitment that Jellybeans is not going anywhere. But we call on governments to please step up and keep this program going. The demand shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, numbers of young people accessing the program only continue to grow.”
Jellybeans Champagne High Tea
Chris said ODYS were grateful for community members who stepped up to assist the service in their fundraising efforts. A sold-out Champagne High Tea at the Brisbane Club on 11 June raised over $5,000 for Jellybeans.
Miles Heffernan from IR Claims, producer Angela Murphy and Rotary Brisbane combined their resources to organise the event.
Attendees arrived to the strains of a stately grand piano and enjoyed canapés especially designed by a professional chef.
MC Max Mackenzie highlighted the difficulties faced by gender diverse people. He said he previously managed to pay for expensive surgeries by living in hostels to save on living expenses.
“I still tend to counts costs in ‘hostel weeks’ — how many weeks living in a hostel it would take to save for anything. When I went to buy a suit to wear today, I calculated it cost me six and a half hostel weeks.”
Miles Heffernan said he was stunned by the level of support offered for the program.
“When I first thought of doing this I never envisaged just how much support we would receive from Rotary Brisbane, Angela Murphy and others. I am so gratified to see the high end of town jumping in to support some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged members of our community. I cannot say thank you enough.”
Mark Wilson from Brisbane Rotary said his organisation was glad of the opportunity to contribute to helping all young people in Brisbane.
“Rotary values diversity and celebrates the contributions of people of all backgrounds.”
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